Peyo & Yvan Delporte
Smurfnapper isn't the first Smurf story, but it does boast most of the classic components of the smurfs, and is the issue to introduce villains Gagamel, and his cat Azrael. In this story, Gargamel, a sorcerer, captures a smurf in hopes of using him as the main ingredient to create a philospoher's stone, which will magically transform metals into gold. It's a cute story that holds up really well, reading like an instant classic. The smurfs are all pretty much carbon copies of one another, all blue with white caps and pants, except for Papa Smurf, who wears red and has a white beard. There's also another smurf who, much like Brainy Smurf from the cartoon, wears glasses and cautions other smurfs to heed what Papa Smurf says. There's also a little glimpse of Smurf Village, with the mushroom houses that are a familiar sight for those who've watched the show. Peyo's art here is nice and cartoony, and very colorful, appropriate for the all-ages tale here as the smurfs run amock in Gargamel's lab trying to free their friend and dodging the mischievous Azrael, who would like nothing more than to eat them up. It reads very much like a modern comic, with very fluid, cinematic action scenes and funny little exchanges between the smurfs. It really is a delightful little read, and has convinced me to shell out the cash for the inexpensive collections (only $5.99 for the paperbacks) on the way: The Smurfs #1: The Purple Smurf and The Smurfs #2: The Smurfs and the Magic Flute.